Let the (Cinderella?) season begin


Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. The NIU football squad will finally begin its 1993 campaign, and does not plan to get caught in a whirlwind.

Charlie Sadler will lead the Huskies into the unfriendly confines of Cyclone-Trice field to take on the Cyclones of Iowa State in Ames at 7 p.m.

This is the first meeting for the two squads, and although there is not yet a rivalry, and Iowa State is not part of the Big West, this could be the most important game for the Huskies until they face conference favorite Nevada on September 25.

This is the game that could set the stage for the rest of the season, and although not favored, the Huskies have a very good chance to win this game. They are fairly healthy and feel confident on both sides of the football.

The Cyclones are also healthy, and although they only have four returning starters on defense, Cyclone head coach Jim Walden is also confident.

“This is the healthiest we’ve been since I’ve been coaching at Iowa State,” Walden said. “I can truly say that I don’t have a starter or key player who isn’t one-hundred percent.”

Some Cyclones that the Huskies should worry about are fullback Chris Ulrich and quarterback Bob Utter. Ulrich led the Cyclones in rushing in 1992 running for 474 yards on 103 attempts. Utter led the passing attack by completing 50 passes for 712 yards.

Defensively the Cyclones have one thing on their mind – LeShon Johnson.

“We’re going to be looking for LeShon Johnson,” Walden said. Walden also said that, unfortunately for the Huskies, they will find him most of the time.

The Huskies have some weapons of their own that the Cyclone defense may not be ready for. Senior fullback Brian Cotton could be one of these surprises. In 1992 Cotton averaged 4.5 yards per carry and was the team’s second leading rusher.

Taking charge of the offense will be senior quarterback Scott Crabtree who improved dramatically over the past year after posting a terrible 1992 season. Although the Huskies were 3-3 when Crabtree started, he completed just 38 percent of his passes last year, and threw nine interceptions.

If the game comes down to the wire, the Huskies can rely on place kicker Brian Steger. Last year Steger hit 21 of 23 point after attempts, and connected on 12 out of 16 field goals to lead the Huskies in scoring with 57 points.

On defense the Huskies are feeling as solid as ever returning seven starters including senior linebackers Steve Wild and Gerald Nickelberry.

Nickelberry led the Huskies in fumble recoveries in 1992 and was third in tackles with 101 (58 solos). Wild finished last season with 67 solo tackles which ranked him 15th in the nation. He was also second in team total tackles with 113.

Charlie Sadler is confident with his team, but like the rest of the world, doesn’t know exactly what to expect from his players.


^‘Matt Kerlin_”The Cyclone defense will be trying to find LeShon Johnson, and they will. In the end zone after two 40-yard runs. Iowa State’s passing attack will be stopped with two interceptions, as the Huskies go on to win 20-17.”

^’John Dietz_”For those of you going to this game, expect the unexpected. Johnson will be stopped cold in the first half (35 yards), then explode in the second for 120. NIU blows through Ames with a 27-23 win.”

^‘Celebrity Prophet_ABC’s Tim Weigel_”Iowa State has a lot of starters back on offense, but Northern has the horses. With an improved Scott Crabtree, NIU has a balanced offense. In a high-scoring game the “Cowboy” will ride high over the Cyclones. Huskies by 10.”